The Morales Law Firm would like to share this article by San Francisco Chronicle. For more information visit: www.SFgate.com
California is a leader in technology and innovation.
Unfortunately, we've also become No.1 on a not-so-illustrious national list: We're the top U.S. destination for cyber-criminals.
Many of the same strengths that have made California such an attractive place to live and develop new things have also made it attractive fro international crime organizations. A new report from Attorney General Kamala Harris' office explains just how thoroughly criminal organizations from Eastern Europe, Africa, and China have infiltrated California for nefarious purposes.
"As an international hub, more narcotics, weapons and humans are trafficked in and out of California than any other state," writes Harris in the report. "The size and strength of California's economy make our businesses, financial institutions and communities lucrative targets for transnational criminal activity."
Much of this is not new - transnational gangs have operated within California for decades. What is new is their growing reliance on cyber crime as a way to earn money. Not only are they using the digital innovations for which California is celebrated, but they're targeting out state's business, financial institutions and individuals.
"In the 21st century, the problem posed by transnational criminal organizations threatens the security of computer and data networks, the integrity of online bank accounts, and the rights of intellectual property holders," says the report. Hacking, fraud and digital piracy account for a growing amount of the estimated $30 billion to $40 billion being laundered through California every year.
State and local authorities will need more resources to combat these crimes, but they'll also need more skills. Currently, the private sector is far better equipped to defend against cyber-crime. Public private partnerships and other ways of leveraging the private sector's knowledge will be critical. So will be the adoption of best practices by businesses and individuals all over the state; much cyber crime happens simply because of lax security processes.
The Legislature could help out by strengthening laws on asset freezing and financial transactions. But it's clear from reading the report that the first step involves getting everyone in California to understand how serious and costly this growing crime has become.